Steed Weighs Reich — Jewish Problem

Wickham Steed, former correspondent of the London Times at Berlin, Rome and Vienna, and finally its editor, explains the true nature of Hitlerism and to what extent it may be a menace to peace in his book, “Hitler, Whence and Whither?”

A scries of articles, of which this is the first, will be published daily from the chapter, “Germanism and Jewry.”

The relations between Germanism and Jewry need to be examined from a much wider angle of vision than that of Hitlerism, on the one hand, and of anti-Hilterism, on the other. No man, however impartial he may think himself, can hope to escape the charge of being biased if he attempts to survey a subject so vast and so intricate. It may therefore be well if I say how I came to study it and what warrant I have to speak of it at all.

Broadly, this warrant is derived from some forty years’ continuous observation of the relations between Germans and Jews in several countries and under conditions not unfavorable to the formation of a considered judgment. When, in my twenty-second year, I went to Berlin University I did not realize that there might be a German-Jewish or, indeed, a Jewish problem. Jews I had met, though without attaching more significance to their physical and mental characteristies than to those of other people. But in the winter and spring of 1892-93 I attended many political meetings in Berlin — Socialist, Liberal, Conservative, and others–mainly, I confess, because I wished to accustom my ear to the German language loudly spoken in public. Among these meetings was one organized by the famous, not to say notorious, Court Chaplain Stocker, who attracted large audiences by the vigor of his diatribes against the Jews and by his obvious belief that in denouncing them, he was acting as his hero, Martin Luther, would have acted; and he always ended by demanding that they should be bundled off to Palestine and leave the German people in peace.


So unbecoming in a Christian pastor did these fulminations seem that I called upon Court Chaplain Stocker to put what he doubtless thought were impertinent questions. I found him sitting below a bust of Martin Luther and posing so as to bring out the facial resemblance between him and the chief parent of the German Reformation. He treated me not only to a private denunciation of the Jews, but to an indignant harangue against England, a Jew-ridden country, unconsciously enslaved to Jewish finance, enslaved to such an extent that be, Court Chaplain Stocker, had been prevented from {SPAN}##{/SPAN}iring any large hall in London for an anti-Jewish meeting. As I left the reverend gentleman I remember wondering whether his views upon Jewry in Germany would be altogether sound, seeing that his views upon England were {SPAN}##{/SPAN}sed upon what struck me as a {SPAN}##{/SPAN}ghtly inadequate data.

Still, Court Chaplain Stocker was by no means alone. A daily anti-Semitic paper, the Staatsbur##er Zeitung, was published in Ber## at that time and was widely ##ad. Even the Kreuz Zeitung, the ##gan of true-blue Prussian evangelical Conservatism, had a strong anti-Jewish flavor; and an agitator named Ahlwardt, whose language might have served as a model for that of Herr Hitler, was writing scurrilous pamphlets and speaking to crowded meetings against the Jews and their misdeeds. Ahlwardt even got him self elected to the Reichstag on the strength of his denunciations. These circumstances induced me to look into the German-Jewish question more seriously and to seek enlightenment from Jewish and non-Jewish friends.


Among others I approached the Jewish treasurer of the German Democratic Social party, Paul Singer. who informed me that anti-Semitism was merely a form of anti-capitalist agitation, since the Jews were the foremost representatives of the capitalist system, and that everything would come right as soon as the triumph of the Socialist revolution had put an end to capitalism itself. I regret to say that this explanation convinced me as little as the assurances of Court Chaplain Stocker had done.

For some years in France, again in Germany, and afterwards in Italy, I kept one eye on the Jewish problem, hoping to find a clear path through the assertions and counter-assertions which befogged it. It was during this period that the Dreyfus affair began and ran its course. This affair, it may perhaps not be superfluous to say, arose out of the condemnation of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish staff officer in the French army, on a charge of having betrayed important military secrets to Germany. Despite his protestations of innocence Dreyfus was sentenced to life-long confinement in a tropical penal settlement, known as “Devil’s Island,” on the strength of a secret and–as it turned out to be–a forged document which was shown neither to him nor to his counsel. A fierce agitation presently arose over the question of his guilt. F o r years it split parties, classes, and even families in France into two pugnacious factions. Jewish organizations throughout the world took up and supported their co-religionist’s case. In the long run, however, the case was won and the innocence of Dreyfus established less by this Jewish support than by the moral heroism of Frenchmen like Emile Zola, Colonel Picquart, Jaures, Anatole France and many others. Thanks to their efforts enough evidence was obtained to warrant a revision of the Dreyfus trial by a military court at Rennes in 1899; and though the court, influenced by the idea that the honor of the army was at stake, refused to acquit Dreyfus, the agitation went on in a milder form until he was “amnestied” and, at the beginning of the Great War, reinstated in the army.


During the course of this affair I saw, both in France and at Rome, that the Catholic heirarchy, the religious orders, including the Jesuits, and clerical organizations in general, were thoroughly hostile to Dreyfus, perhaps because international Freemasonry was on his side. The Papal Secretary of State, Cardinal Rampolla, went so far as to express to M. Sazonof, who was then representative of Russia at the Holy See, his deep satisfaction at the refusal of the military court at Rennes to acquit Captain Dreyfus of treason–though it granted him “extenuating circumstances”–and M. Sazonof earned the cardinal’s displeasure by replying that in Russia the behavior of the Rennes tribunal was looked upon as outrageous. Of Dreyfus’ innocence I had good reason to be convinced, for I knew that the document which he was supposed to have sold to Germany had, in reality, been supplied to her by an unquestionable Christian traitor of quite another name, and had then been communicated to the Italian War Office.